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Old 06-14-2018, 08:15 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is online now
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How can you touch up a photo to remove bright lights in the background

I took a family photo that I think was good, but I took it indoors on my phone. And the way the house is set up, the sun was coming in through the windows, creating a bright light that is distracting.

I tried adjusting the contrast and brightness, and it didn't make a difference. Is there any kind of free program that would be helpful for this situation? I just need to lower the brightness of the windows, the rest of the picture is good.
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Old 06-14-2018, 08:28 PM
Musicat Musicat is online now
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If the detail is gone, as opposed to just minimized, there's nothing you can do to bring it back.

Have you tried masking off the area you want to adjust? If it's only a window, that might be an easy mask. Then whatever adjustments you make will affect only that area. You might have to feather the mask edges to make it look good.
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Old 06-14-2018, 09:28 PM
PastTense PastTense is online now
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You might look at something like GIMP, although it will probably take a while to learn:
https://www.gimp.org/
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Old 06-14-2018, 11:03 PM
beowulff beowulff is online now
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Many photo editing programs can adjust Highlights and Shadows.
You can knock down the highlights, but if they are blown out, there's not much you can do about it.
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Old 06-14-2018, 11:10 PM
GaryM GaryM is offline
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If you have a photo sharing program, or Dropbox, perhaps you could post the file and some folks could download it and see what they can do?
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Old 06-14-2018, 11:11 PM
Mr Downtown Mr Downtown is offline
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I usually solve this problem in Photoshop by duplicating the layer and setting the duplicate layer to 50% opacity and Multiply. That multiplies and enhances what detail you do have in the too-light areas. The blown-out windows, of course, can't get any lighter.

If you don't have any adjustments other than contrast and brightness, it might prove tricky. You can't enhance what the image doesn't have to begin with.
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Old 06-14-2018, 11:12 PM
blondebear blondebear is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
Have you tried masking off the area you want to adjust? If it's only a window, that might be an easy mask. Then whatever adjustments you make will affect only that area. You might have to feather the mask edges to make it look good.
If you have something like Photoshop Elements you could try selecting the background and and then mess with lighting/contrast or blur it or even replace it with something else by deleting the selected background area and pasting something esle into it's place.
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Old 06-14-2018, 11:48 PM
Bone Bone is online now
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It's on your phone? Snapseed is a free photo editing app for phones that is pretty great. It can reduce highlights if not too blown out. It's not Photoshop or Gimp or even Lightroom, but it may be able to get the job done
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Old 06-15-2018, 12:13 AM
Roderick Femm Roderick Femm is offline
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By the way, if you're not a photo expert, it might not be clear what "blown out" means. As I understand it, it refers to an area that has so much light exposure that it is basically just white and that no detail from that area was captured by the camera, nor can it be brought out through software manipulation. The detail is not covered up by the bright light, it is just not there.
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Old 06-15-2018, 08:01 AM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is online now
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Originally Posted by GaryM View Post
If you have a photo sharing program, or Dropbox, perhaps you could post the file and some folks could download it and see what they can do?
I uploaded them to an online site. If you or someone else thinks you would like to try editing the lighting on a couple photos, feel free to send me a PM and I'll send you the link. I'm not comfortable posting the link openly here but I'll send it via PM. Thanks for the idea.
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Old 06-16-2018, 02:09 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Originally Posted by beowulff View Post
Many photo editing programs can adjust Highlights and Shadows.
You can knock down the highlights, but if they are blown out, there's not much you can do about it.
For general lightening and darkening of areas in the image, look for the burn and dodge tools in whatever editing software you might be using.

GIMP is excellent as a free tool, although it does take some getting used to.
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Last edited by Spectre of Pithecanthropus; 06-16-2018 at 02:11 PM.
  #12  
Old 06-16-2018, 02:12 PM
Roderick Femm Roderick Femm is offline
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Originally Posted by Spectre of Pithecanthropus View Post
For general lightening and darkening of areas in the image, look for the burn and dodge tools in whatever editing software you might be using.

GIMP is excellent as a free tool, although it does take some getting used to.
Curious how GIMP compares in usefulness and learning curve to Photoshop or Photoshop Elements (about which I've heard but never looked at) or other similar software.
  #13  
Old 06-16-2018, 05:51 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Originally Posted by Roderick Femm View Post
Curious how GIMP compares in usefulness and learning curve to Photoshop or Photoshop Elements (about which I've heard but never looked at) or other similar software.
I haven't found anything yet that Photoshop can do and GIMP can't also, but I'm still very much a beginner.

Well maybe I have found one thing. If I'm working in Lightroom I can "edit in" GIMP as well as Photoshop, but I'm not sure if it's possible to edit in GIMP as layers.
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  #14  
Old 06-16-2018, 06:01 PM
beowulff beowulff is online now
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BTW -
Many cameras (especially smartphones like the iPhone) have an "HDR" setting. This takes two or more images at different exposures and merges them into one image, preserving the highlights from the underexposed image and the shadows from the over exposed one.
It can be quite effective, although when applied too aggressively, it leads to very un-nautral looking images.
HDR can also be done in post-processing, if there are multiple exposures to work with.
  #15  
Old 06-18-2018, 07:10 AM
Baal Houtham Baal Houtham is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
I took a family photo that I think was good, but I took it indoors on my phone. And the way the house is set up, the sun was coming in through the windows, creating a bright light that is distracting.

I tried adjusting the contrast and brightness, and it didn't make a difference. Is there any kind of free program that would be helpful for this situation? I just need to lower the brightness of the windows, the rest of the picture is good.
Hi Wesley. I think asking for a volunteer is the right approach — although I don’t have the time/motivation this week.

Mostly, I wanted to comment that your request has a little bit of a “need minor help with a land war in Asia” vibe. That’s not mocking your OP, and possibly there is a simple fix to the bright window spoiling the picture.

There’s also a chance that optimizing the photo would take hours, and making the problem completely go away would be nearly impossible. So, writing “I just need to lower the brightness of the window” makes me smile and rub my chin. An indoor shot with backlighting of a group, taken with a phone sets off a lot of alarms in my head.

If the people aren’t in front on the window, then maybe the window can just be cropped out of the image. If the people are in front of the window, your car might need to go up on the rack.
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